Apparently I’m right on trend

After my last post (an excerpt from Peter Thomson’s Kava in the Blood extolling the virtues of Fiji’s national drink) my mom drew my attention to a recent article in the New York Times: Counting on the Trendy to Revive Kava, a Traditional Drink. Apparently Kava bars are sprouting up all over the US; there are apparently 4 in the Bay Area (according to this very helpful website which lets you search for your nearest Kava bar). Unfortunately I can’t find any research about the safety of Kava consumption while breastfeeding, but 6-12 months from now I will definitely give it a try and report back.

Excerpt: Kava in the Blood

[K]ava is a drink which has as its essence the ritual of sharing fellowship with other humans. This is no brew for pouring into a martini glass and moping over in a lonely bar. It would be aberrant behaviour indeed for you to mix some kava and drink it by yourself, for the preparation and serving of kava is a process of social interaction, of story-telling, of shared laughter, of a communal solemnity, of inclusion and of understanding…

There is a Fijian expression ‘Maca na wai, ka boko na buka‘ which translates directly as ‘the water has gone and the fire is out’. It means ‘we’re out of kava and tobacco’. What makes this expression so full of pathos is that the dearth of kava implies no gathering together around the tanoa to listen to the stories which, through their humour, irony and ritual, serve the social values of sharing and togetherness which bring harmony to the community.

Peter Thomson, Kava in the Blood

Weekend Excerpt: Words of the Lagoon

I wanted to share an excerpt from the book I’m currently reading. The sharp-eyed among you will spot that this book is from Palau, rather than Fiji, the country about which I’m currently blogging. I am still WAY behind on my blogging, and the books I’m posting about are ones I read a year ago. Meanwhile I’ve kept up with the reading, and am nearly finished with the South Pacific and about to head into Asia. I thought I might occasionally share bits of the books I’m currently reading, both as a way to bring the blog more in step with my actual progress, and as a sort of commonplace book to preserve the things I like best, or want to remember, or that are most ridiculous, as I read them. From my Palau entry:

If a light is shined into the eyes ofa shark and then moved smoothly away, the shark will frequently follow the beam, often at considerable speed. The newcomer to Palau is often skeptical of stories he hears about Palauan divers intentionally driving sharks directly into fellow divers using a beam of light. The stories are true, but the practice is not quite as reckless as it might sound and is not meant maliciously. Only small sharks (three to four feet) are used. And, as Ngiraklang states, “You only do this to a friend–as a joke. A stranger would get very angry.”

From Words of the Lagoon: Fishing and Marine Lore in the Palau District of Micronesia, R.E. Johannes